Karen's Blogs

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Food as An Experience

In an article I was reading about Starbucks, mention was made of how eating has morphed from being a survival activity to a knock-my-socks-off event. “Buy the latte . . . and be sure to be happy about it,” by Anya Kamenetz (Sarasota Herald Tribune, 10/11/14, 1D) explains how the “latte factor” influences us—the enjoyment we derive from pleasurable routines. Okay, I’ll drink to that. I love my morning java while reading the paper, my daily swim if the water is warm enough, and watching the news (horrific as it too often is) before heading off to bed.

Kamanetz describes research that says we “get more satisfaction out of experiences than objects,” including a recent study showing that “especially as we get older, ordinary, every day experiences offer a big boost.” She explains that “A cup of coffee is technically an object, but if you build a ritual around it – window shopping, sitting with the paper, chatting with a friend – it will pay off in increased happiness.”

The article got me thinking about how this culture makes objects into experiences, a reasonable explanation of how we transform the original object into something, well, exciting. This is what has happened with food and drink. Not that it’s bad or wrong that we get a special jolt of wow from that afternoon latte or candy bar, or from the delight of sipping a glass of chilled wine while nibbling on our favorite cheese and crackers. I’m all for these kinds of pleasures and many more of their ilk.

The problem is when food and drink become the sole pleasure in life, which happens to many disregulated eaters. Stressed from working all day or exhausted from taking care of the kids (or both), they’ve lost the ability to find pleasure in anything but small, ordinary rituals which have begun to pass for fun, excitement, joy, and contentment. Pleasure less often comes from a night out of laughter with friends, losing track of time chatting away with a best bud, a challenging game of Scrabble, or a nature walk.

Pleasure is now spelled f-o-o-d. But, remember, it’s not the food we want, but the experience we have while eating it. When food and pleasure become synonymous, we stop looking for pleasure elsewhere. Why go farther when it’s only a few steps or an arm’s reach away? You tell me why. Or better yet, tell yourself why you’ve allowed your world of pleasure to narrow down to chewing and swallowing so that you forgo all or most pleasures but one: eating. Then remind yourself why this hasn’t been working for you and find some non-eating happiness to float your boat.

Mastering Dealing with Emotions
Why Being Curious Is Crucial to Getting Healthy

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